Taking a Left with Rebecca-Chapter 1
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the long and short of it
There was once a time that if you were to peek inside my closet you would find an excessive amount of long sleeve shirts – even during the summer time. There were shirts for all occasions, some casual and some fancy, or in styles long since passed. I had a rainbow of colors but what I really needed was a shirt with a camouflage print, that way I could just blend in with my surroundings.
These long sleeve shirts were my armor to protect me from the outside world, to combat the stares, and quell the inquisitive looks. I simply pulled down my left sleeve in a swift motion that I'd mastered. I was born with only two fully developed fingers on my left hand - and those missing three digits led to a lifetime struggle of feeling insecure and inadequate.
telling my tale
I am the founder of half full, llc and my company's site states that "my story is the backbone behind why half full exists." Yet this is just one line in the story of my life. I'm here to share with you the entire tale of how my left hand has impacted my life. I'll reveal how I've wrestled with challenges, but more importantly, how I've overcome them and come out stronger. My hope is that by sharing my story it will help you, inspire you, and uplift you in your own life.
back to the beginning
So let's start at the very beginning... I was born with Symbrachydactyly Syndrome which is a tongue twister name for a condition that results in short or missing fingers. For me, this means I have two fully developed fingers on my left hand. Symbrachydactyly isn't hereditary or common and I'm one of about 32,000 people that have it.
I had a great childhood growing up in the Smith Hill area of Providence, Rhode Island with my parents and older brother and sister. I went to the local grade school a few blocks from our house. One of my earliest memories of my left hand making me feel different was being teased by the other kids.
I wouldn't call it bullying compared to today's unfortunate definition, but one thing that hasn't changed is how the hurtful words stick with you.
High school was some of my hardest four years. That's when I could sense the stares and I started hiding my hand with long sleeves to keep the "mean girls" from coming at me. It’s hard enough to try to fit in when you’re in high school, never mind the stress of trying to “look” and “be” the part when you are literally trying to hide your hand every time you were around your classmates.
Since they didn't make long sleeve prom dresses, I even resorted to wearing long gloves and stuffed my left glove with toilet paper – quite the fashion statement!
finally “coming out”
College for me was an escape from the confines of my high school years and I went off to Syracuse University determined to "find myself." When I was younger, a friend covered the Syracuse logo on my long sleeved (of course!) Syracuse University shirt and told me to spell it without looking. I nailed it and that’s when I knew I wanted to go to S.U.
A large university was the perfect environment for me to fade into the background while occasionally testing out how new people would accept me by being "me." But while college was a place to learn more through my studies (I graduated from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs), I also learned how to master the art of no one knowing about my hand regardless of anything I did. For example, I played on the intramural volleyball team in long sleeve shirts and no one knew.
I even worked at my most favorite job ever as a.....
I loved that job because I enjoyed actively listening to people and I am sure that’s what solidified me on my path to helping others. And! I also gained the valuable skills to make a great mudslide! I worked at a bar near campus called Syracuse Suds Factory. I remember when I applied, I proudly flashed my laminated TIPS (Training for Intervention ProcedureS) Certification Card. The manager giggled and said “that’s cute!”.
I wasn’t exactly Tom Cruise from Cocktail (although people tell me I look like Cocktail’s Elizabeth Shue), but I made sure to be quick on my feet so no one saw my hand. My collared shirt uniform would always be in its usual covering place. And the bar itself was pretty darn clean because I always held a cleaning rag in my left hand!
The Taking a Left with Rebecca e-newsletter series tells the story of half full founder Rebecca Twitchell’s trials and triumphs of living with only two fully developed fingers on her left hand. Stay tuned as her tale unfolds over the coming weeks.
Contact Rebecca at firstname.lastname@example.org
Want to make a mudslide with Rebecca? Consider attending the Women’s Forward presented by half full happening October 25-27 in Salisbury, Massachusetts. This exclusive experience includes personal development workshops plus one-on-one coaching by Rebecca and the half full team.
Learn more here.